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Even if humanity slashes greenhouse gas emissions in line with Paris climate treaty goals, the planet could overwhelm such efforts and irretrievably tip into a hellish "hothouse" state, top scientists warned Monday. Under such a scenario, Earth's average temperature would stabilize 4 or 5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, rather than the 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius cap called for in the 196-nation pact.r Tipping points: No less than 10 distinct facets of what scientists call the Earth System could switch from neutral or helpful to harmful, eventually dumping more carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere than all human activity combined.r Weakened carbon "sinks": Earth's forests and oceans have absorbed more than half of carbon pollution over the last few decades, even as those emissions grew.r (Not so) permafrost: Methane and CO2 trapped in the increasingly misnamed permafrost of Russia, Canada and northern Europe is roughly equivalent to 15 years of emissions at today's levels.The Arctic's will likely see its first ice-free summer before midcentury, and in a 2 degrees Celsius world could be that way one-in-four years.
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